Mussels with Verjus / White Wine Mustard Sauce

Do you know that Dijon mustard was once made using verjus, the acidic unfermented green juice from unripe grapes? (That is, besides the key ingredient: mustard seeds.) Then it was subsequently and permanently substituted with white wine when wine became more readily available. I like using white wine to deglaze. White wine sauce is a different matter. I find it to be overpowering and sometimes bitter for my palate, unless most of the alcohol is evaporated. But that won’t define a white wine sauce, will it?
The idea of comparing the sauces, using verjus in one and white wine in the other is intriguing to me. I’ve been attempting to find a non-alcoholic, milder and less acidic alternative to the white wine sauce. (I am not a wine drinker.) I want to find out which one wins out in a side-by-side comparison, in terms of flavor.
The mussels with white wine mustard sauce recipe comes from Ellie Kreiger, a nutritionist and cook book writer and the IHCC’s featured chef for the next six months. I appreciate and practice her health-conscious approach to food. Her recipes, like this one, are very simple, pared down and no thrill, the way to prepare certain food at times.
I split the recipe into two separate pots. First, sweat the aromatics in a heavy saucepan with olive oil, add liquid to deglaze. One using verjus, the other with white wine. Add in the mussels as the liquid comes back to a boil. Let them simmer with the lid on. Mussels are ready in about three minutes when their shelves open up. One teaspoon, each, of Dijon mustard and butter is whisked in to finish the sauce.
The verjus sauce gets the thumbs up. It’s complex, more nuanced and vibrant. Unexamined sauce, like an unexamined life, tends to be lackluster. The verjus sauce is anything but. You taste it and taste it again. You do a double take. You can’t exactly pinpoint what it is. It does not have the common flavor we are accustomed to. It defies description; perhaps it’s the so called “umami,” distinct from any other flavors!


The verjus sauce adds a distinct and vibrant flavor


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  • Reply
    Couscous & Consciousness
    October 11, 2015 at 8:10 am

    I love mussels – one of my favourite seafoods – and local green-lipped mussels where I live are of excellent quality and readily available. This dish is absolutely right up my alley – I will definitely give it a try with the verjuice.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I love the green-lipped mussels from New Zealand, more than any other kinds. They are the biggest, juiciest and the most satisfying, if you can find them. Unfortunately, the high quality ones are hard to come by in our area.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Sold on verjus! You have certainly piqued my interest in trying verjus. I do enjoy a white wine sauce, but would love to taste the difference with verjus sauce. These mussels look positively delicious and so pretty on the plate! This is definitely a special meal that would make anyone feel loved.

  • Reply
    Joyce Rachel Lee-Bates
    October 12, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I'm always vowed by your lovely recipe, beautiful plating, and gorgeous photos. I'm checking in every week! 😉

  • Reply
    Joyce Rachel Lee-Bates
    October 12, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Oops, I mean wowed. Not vowed. Lol.

  • Reply
    kitchen flavours
    October 15, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Delicious mussels! The only green-lipped mussels which i can get over here are the frozen ones, as they are all imported. This is a stunning dish to welcome Ellie Krieger!

  • Reply
    Deb in Hawaii
    October 19, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Definitely picking up some verjus after reading your comments. I dearly love mussels but they are heart to get fresh enough here without paying an arm and a leg. I am drooling over these! 😉

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